The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

A Non-Toxic Manicure and Thrift Shopping July 23, 2010

Ugh, so sorry I’ve been MIA for the past week. But I’m back, and this will be the first of several backlogged posts.

Saturday was catch-up-on errands day. You see, I had to finally get rid of some old clothes. I cleaned out my closet months ago with the help of a stylist, and even after one trip, there was still an impressive pile on the floor of cast-offs. I poured it all in a couple of reusable bags to take with me.

The whole city was hot, muggy, and inhospitable. My air conditioner labored to keep my room comfortable, and we had all the lights switched off so we didn’t blow a fuse in our old apartment. As I got my stuff together to run out the door, I decided at the last minute to switch bags. “It’s too hot to carry a leather purse,” I complained to Vicki. The idea of having black leather touching my skin, even if it was a thin strap, was gross. I poured everything in a cotton shopping tote, picked up my stuff, and took off for Brooklyn.

I was drenched in sweat by the time I made it to the cool air conditioning of the subway, and drenched again when I emerged into the hot sun and walked two blocks to my destination: Beacon’s Closet. I gratefully pushed open the glass door to the air conditioning.

Beacon’s closet is great, because it’s such an easy process to consign your clothes.

1. Dump your bags full of clothing and accessories with the girls in the back.

2. Either leave and go home, or go shopping on 5th Ave for an hour while they go through your stuff.

3. Pick up your voucher for store credit or cash.

If you decide to just go home, they’ll donate everything they don’t take to charity and you can come back another day for the voucher. If you decide to come back, you can take back all the clothes they don’t want. So easy!

So I left my unwanted stuff with a hipster girl with a brassy blond pixie cut and went to get my nails done. I found a place only a block away and popped in.

Now, a word about getting your nails done: It is not good for you. I mean, it’s great if you want to stop biting your nails (that may or may not be a problem for me) but in reality, a nail salon is a viciously toxic place, with toxins that have been linked to birth deformities, cancer, and liver damage. About this time last year, I made the trek down to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn to get my nails done at a green salon, but lets be honest – it’s just too much to ask me to be on the train for an extra hour for a manicure. (There are other salons who use organic nail polish, but none of them are anywhere near the Upper West Side or even Mid-town.) So I came up with a solution: bring my own stuff!

Priti is a great line of nail polishes and nail polish that…well, I’ll let them explain:

Priti Polishes have been formulated without Toluene, DBP and Formaldehyde, all known carcinogens and does not contain any petroleum ingredients. They are fast drying, chip resistant, and super glossy.

As much as I like O.P.I. and Essie nail polish, I like my health more, and these Priti polishes really do the trick. Oh, and you can find them on Amazon, among other places. I had come prepared with pink nail polish, a top coat, and nail polish remover in my bag, and as I slid into a seat at the table, I took them out and put them on the table. “Can I use my own?” I asked the nail technician. She nodded as she took out her various sterilized tools. Then she took a cotton swap and began to soak it with blue liquid. I slid my nail polish remover forward and indicated it. She paused, quizzically, and with an expression of curiosity unscrewed it and soaked a new cotton swab, then set to work.

While she was  pushing up my cuticles and soaking my fingertips, I was able to study the ingredient list on the “fancy” lotions displayed next to me, so when she reached for a bottle I was prepared to turn down the offer of a hand massage. I can’t say for sure there were toxins in there, but if I need a chemistry teacher to identify it, then I don’t use it. It’s a rule that has served me well.

I could just imagine what the technician was saying to her neighbor as she giggled in Korean. “What is this silly white girl doing? Man, do we get some crazy hippies in Brooklyn.” No matter, the woman getting a pedicure next to me and I had a great discussion of the merits of bringing our own polish, and, God help me, Birkenstocks.

When she was done applying the last layer of polish, she picked up my stuff and settled me in the cancer causing UV nail dryer. When she walked away I subtly turned off the light switch and settled for a blow dry.

All prettied up, I stopped by a smoothie shop. I quizzed the girl behind the counter to establish that no extra sugar is added or syrup, and then ordered a pina colada.

It came in a styrene cup.

ARG! I just can’t win! It was too hot to get mad though, so I stopped outside the door to pet a cute pooch and headed back to Beacon’s Closet. I still had time to kill when I got back in, so against my better judgment I started to peruse.

I actually didn’t think I would find anything. Beacon’s has weird criteria for what clothing they pick. They usually turn down 75% of what I bring them, but they do keep some fairly ugtastic items. I guess I’m just not hipster enough to understand what is “fashionable”.

Despite this, I found several cute items:

One very fashionable (a la Refinery 29) Dooney & Burke long-handled leather purse in perfect condition, $25

One gorgeous maxi dress in bright tropical colors with neckline embelishments, $19

One adorable vintage bow tie for Mike to wear to the Jazz Age Festival on Sunday (post coming!), $9

Even minus the clothing I ended up buying, I netted $14. New clothes, AND money. I should clean out my closet more often!

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EcoSalon Shops! (And so Does Alden) June 8, 2010

Friday night my friend Agatha and I went straight from work the the EcoSalon Shops! event downtown. Things got off to a rough start, when a sign on the front door of the address directed us around back to a grimy alley covered in graffiti. (And not the artsy kind.) Agatha and I looked at each other, the dark alleyway, and each other again, wondering what to do.

Luckily another girl was waiting, and she assured us it was the right entrance to Green Spaces, an eco-friendly Coworking space where the event was being held. The heavy metal doors creaked open and we boarded a freight elevator that rumbled slowly up and up. “I bet this place has asbestos,” Agatha mumbled.

“What are you talking about??” the operator of the elevator exploded. “You are here to go to an event, not make unfounded assumptions about whether or not there is asbestos. Every building in New York City is required to be asbestos free….” he went on and on, while Agatha stood mute. Finally we reached the top and he pushed open the doors, still fussing at us. We escaped with relief into a long room packed with racks of clothing, boxes of shoes, tables laid with jewelry and accessories, and fashionable ladies milling about, drinks in hand. I grabbed a glass of wine and went to work perusing the offerings.

Lara Miller

Agatha and I were especially taken by Lara Miller’s hand-loomed pieces, which could be switched around to be almost anything you wanted. Lara modeled this… well, I don’t know what to call it exactly but it’s pretty darn cool. For myself I picked up a simple cream t-shirt with a draped front.

Agatha got into a deep conversation with Lara, so I wandered over to look at….

T-Luxe

T-Luxe features beautiful underthings made of organic silk, cotton, and soy fabric. I had read up on the line beforehand, and was already excited to check it out. Tiffany Phipps, the designer, was nice enough to chat with me a bit while I perused her offerings.

“So how does this look under a t-shirt?”

“Not good,” she admitted, “it’s really just loungewear. All that ruching…”

Well, I can dig that. Sometimes a girl just needs to feel pretty, and I can’t think of anything more adorable in which I can beat the summer heat while I “lounge” in my sauna of an apartment. I snagged the panties, the matching bralet, and a camisole as for $95, which is a steal for such high quality stuff! I hope you’re ready for some half nakedness in the apartment, Vicki.

Feisty Elle

We loved the simple and high-quality nature of these laser-cut felt earring from Feisty Elle. While I didn’t get a pair for myself (I have too many earrings that I don’t wear) I could easily see integrating the bright colors into an everyday wardrobe. Leslie Young, the Californian designer, was a sweetheart too! Check out the website, because my pictures just don’t do them justice.

Miasunta

How lovely are all of these pretty baubles from Sara Brancato of Miasunta? All of her materials are either vintage, or sourced from the leftovers in manufacturing processes: extra chains, leftover metals, and vintage keys complete the look of eco-friendly charms.

Fair Vodka

Ever heard of vodka distilled from quinoa? Neither had we, but it is exceptionally smooth. I can say that with confidence because I drank it straight, having come too late for the chocolate martinis that everyone was raving about. You better believe that next time I’m in the market for vodka, I’ll be picking up some of this Fair Trade certified hooch. Luckily enough for me, it’s sold in nine New York City locations including 94th street, only two subway stops from my apartment. You can find a comprehensive list of purveyors here.

Divine Chocolate


Next to the vodka was Divine Chocolate, another component in the chocolate martinis. If you are in Whole Foods and jonesing for some chocolate, you have GOT to pick up a bar. It’s co-owned by cocoa farmers in Ghana, and – most importantly – it’s outrageously delicious. I mean… yeah. It’s amazing.

A Perfume Organic

Lately I’ve been hearing rumblings on how conventional perfume contains harsh chemicals. I’m loathe to give up my Dior perfume, but this stuff made a serious case for the switch. The woman working the A Perfume Organic table encouraged me to rub my fingers on the plants to pick up on the scented oils, then test the corresponding perfume. Each perfume contained several notes anchored by mint or other natural base notes. Who wouldn’t want to smell like a summer garden?

Study NY

I picked up this matching bolero and skirt set from Study NY, which I plan to wear to work sometime soon. Keep a look out!

Rebekah Froberg


Agatha said she was “obsessed” with the pretty gemstones in Rebekah Froberg‘s collection, which are handmade from recycled metals and stones like diamonds, tourmaline, sapphires and topaz.

MissionSavvy

Agatha loved the beaded detailing and tiers of eco-friendly fabric in this shirt sold at MissionSavvy, and store that donates 5% of profits generated to “a select group of animal welfare and conservation groups.” While we decided the shape of the tank favors those who are a little less endowed in the upper region (it’s hard being us, for sure) you should check out their website, as it seems to have some of the most pretty and practical sustainable pieces I’ve seen in a while.

There were a lot more booths there, that I just can’t cover them all. Here’s a list of designers, stores and products I didn’t particularly care for, but may suit your style:

H. Fredriksso

Feral Childe

Ecowrist

Doucette Duvall

Cri de Coeur

Buddha Nose

NatureVsFuture

RESTORE

Zhena’s Gypsy Tea

Juno & Jove

Most of the designers I talked to said their stuff can be found at  Kaight, the eco-friendly and sustainable boutique on the Lower East Side. If not there, you can check out their websites for a list of stockists, and some of them even sell direct on their website.